Nor­mal rains ex­pected

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Na­tional News - Elita Chik­wati Harare Bureau

ZIM­BABWE is ex­pected to re­ceive nor­mal to above nor­mal rains dur­ing the 2016/17 rain­fall sea­son with agri­cul­ture ex­perts ad­vis­ing farm­ers to plant with the first rains.

The higher than usual rains are ex­pected to come as early as late Septem­ber in some parts of the coun­try.

Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Ser­vices Depart­ment se­nior fore­caster Ms Vim­bayi Mamombe said there is a high like­li­hood of an early start of the sea­son for the whole coun­try with sig­nif­i­cant rains as early as late Septem­ber in the South­ern ar­eas of Zim­babwe.

Re­gions 1, 2 and 3, are ex­pected to re­ceive nor­mal to above nor­mal rains dur­ing the pe­riod Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber 2016.

Re­gion 1 com­prises of the bulk of Mashona­land East, Mashona­land Cen­tral, North East­ern parts of Mid­lands and parts of Man­i­ca­land, while re­gion 2 con­sists of the bulk of Mata­bele­land North, parts of Mid­lands and parts of Mashona­land West.

Re­gion 3 is made up of Masvingo, the bulk of Mid­lands, ex­treme south­ern parts of Man­i­ca­land and the bulk of Mata­bele­land South.

Re­gion 1 is ex­pected to re­ceive rains av­er­ag­ing 307mm; re­gion 2,248mm and re­gion 3,261 mm from Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber 2016.

From Novem­ber to Jan­uary 2017, re­gions 1 and 2 are ex­pected to re­ceive nor­mal to be­low nor­mal rains while Re­gion 3 is ex­pected to re­ceive nor­mal to above nor­mal rains.

Re­gions 1 and 3 are ex­pected to re­ceive nor­mal to above nor­mal rain­fall from De­cem­ber to Fe­bru­ary 2017 while Re­gion 2 is ex­pected to re­ceive nor­mal to be­low nor­mal rain­fall. From Jan­uary to March 2017, Re­gion 1 and 2 are ex­pected to re­ceive nor­mal to above nor­mal rains while Re­gion 3 is ex­pected to re­ceive nor­mal to be­low nor­mal rain­fall.

Ms Mamombe said in­puts, in­clud­ing small grains should be dis­trib­uted to all re­gions by end of Septem­ber 2016 in Mata­bele­land South, Masvingo, Mid­lands and south­ern dis­tricts of Man­i­ca­land and by end of Oc­to­ber for the rest of the coun­try.

In view of the mois­ture avail­abil­ity and suit­able tem­per­a­tures thresh­olds, those with water should not wait for the main rains to fall. They can plant any time now.

De­spite the higher chances of higher than usual rains this sea­son, Zim­babwe should al­ways ex­pect and plan for one form of drought or an­other as it is now rare for the whole coun­try to ex­pe­ri­ence the same weather con­di­tions.

Ms Mamombe said there was need to con­tinue with water har­vest­ing pro­grammes es­pe­cially those in agro-eco­log­i­cal zones 4 and 5.

“We should keep in mind that there are in­di­ca­tions of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion in the rain­fall amounts as the sea­son pro­gresses.

“The poli­cies of small dam con­struc­tion and bore­hole drilling or deep­en­ing, con­ser­va­tion such as con­tour or ridg­ing, should be im­ple­mented. In­cen­tives for maize pro­duc­tion in sup­port of com­mand agri­cul­ture should be an­nounced as soon as possible rather than wait un­til the mid­dle of the sea­son,” she said.

Stake­hold­ers who at­tended the rain­fall out­look work­shop on Wed­nes­day agreed that the rain­fall forecast should be made avail­able to users timely for plan­ning pur­poses.

Agri­tex of­fi­cial Mr Hil­lary Mugiyo said weather in­for­ma­tion should be dis­sem­i­nated to farm­ers early.

He said the chal­lenge was that some­times the in­for­ma­tion was coarse and not user-friendly to most farm­ers.

“We should have lo­cal small scale forecast if possible at dis­trict level so the in­for­ma­tion be­comes more ap­pro­pri­ate to the farm­ers. We rec­om­mended that 10 day fore­casts be made avail­able to farm­ers in time for plan­ning,” he said.

Prin­ci­pal agron­o­mist Mrs Si­bongile Chikore urged farm­ers with­out draught power to use con­ser­va­tion farming.

“Farm­ers should make plant­ing sta­tions early than wait for the rains,” she said. Tobacco In­dus­try and Mar­ket­ing Board tech­ni­cal man­ager Mr Bless­ing Dhokotera said the sea­son is good for tobacco pro­duc­tion con­sid­er­ing that about 80 per­cent of the grow­ers where small­holder farm­ers who re­lied on rain­fed agri­cul­ture.

Last sea­son the coun­try ex­pe­ri­enced an El Nino in­duced drought which re­sulted in crop fail­ure and live­stock deaths.

Cli­mate ex­perts have how­ever raised concern over de­lays in re­act­ing to the rain­fall fore­casts.

The Sadc re­gion has lost large herds of cat­tle to drought.

Ad­vo­cate Prince Machaya

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